You’ve Helped Reduce Conflict at Walter P. Carter School
Recently at Walter P. Carter, a student pepper sprayed two other students. The injured students were taken to the hospital and the offending student was detained, but the incident also inspired multiple fights later that day at the school. Bullying and stolen cell phones seemed to be part of the conflicts. At Acts4Youth’s Shine program that night, the fights prompted the leaders to lead a lesson that changed one girl’s desire for revenge.
On the drive to Second Presbyterian Church for the Shine program that afternoon, a middle school girl whose sister’s phone had been taken, angrily said, “I’m going to smack someone at school tomorrow!”
Olivia, a Shine assistant, admitted, “I’m still getting used to not being alarmed when people announce bad intentions, but I managed to calmly ask her what some consequences might be if she took that road. She said, ‘I don’t care. Whatever they are, I’ll take them!’ ”
Because of the high tempers and stress of the day, the leaders started the Shine program off with an exercise inspired by James 1:19: “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” During the lesson the girls listened to each other’s sides of a mock conflict, repeated back what they heard and what they thought the other person was feeling.
“There were several starts and stops, lots of additional guidance, and finally some successful listener interactions,” explained Olivia.
“At the end of the night, the last girl I had to drop off was the one that wanted to fight the next day at school,” said Olivia. “I asked her if based on tonight’s discussions, she had any alternatives on how to handle the situation she was dealing with. To my joy, she did! She said, ‘I’m going to let the [school] authorities handle it and take care of getting the phone back.’ “